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(FROM THE ROMAN STATION AT OLD PENRITH.)
How profitless the relics that we cull,
Troubling the last holds of ambitious Rome,
Unless they chasten fancies that presume
Too high, or idle agitations lull !
Of the world's flatteries if the brain be full,
To have no seat for thought were better doom,
Like this old helmet, or the eyeless skull
Of him who gloried in its nodding plume.
Heaven out of view, our wishes what are they?
Our fond regrets, insatiate in their grasp?
The Sage's theory ? the Poet's lay?
Mere Fibulæ without a robe to clasp ;
Obsolete lamps, whose light no time recalls;
Urns without ashes, tearless lacrymals!
No more: the end is sudden and abrupt,
Abrupt -- as without preconceived design
Was the beginning, yet the several Lays
Have moved in order, to each other bound
By a continuous and acknowledged tie
Though unapparent, like those Shapes distinct
That yet survive ensculptured on the walls
Of Palace, or of Temple, 'mid the wreck
Of famed Persepolis ; each following each,
As might beseem a stately embassy,
In set array; these bearing in their hands
Ensign of civil power, weapon of war,
Or gift, to be presented at the Throne
Of the Great King; and others, as they go
In priestly vest, with holy offerings charged,
Or leading victims drest for sacrifice.
Nor will the Muse condemn, or treat with scorn
Our ministration, humble but sincere,
That from a threshold loved by every Muse
Its impulse took — that sorrow-stricken door,
Whence, as a current from its fountain-head,
Our thoughts have issued, and our feelings flowed,
Receiving, willingly or not, fresh strength
From kindred sources; while around us sighed
(Life's three first seasons having passed away)
Leaf-scattering winds, and hoar-frost sprinklings
Foretaste of winter, on the moorland heights;
And every day brought with it tidings new
Of rash change, ominous for the public weal.
Hence, if dejection have too oft encroached
Upon that sweet and tender melancholy
itself be cherished and caressed
More than enough, a fault so natural,
Even with the young the hopeful or the gay,
For prompt forgiveness will not sue in vain.
If to Tradition faith be due,
And echoes from old verse speak true,
Ere the meek Saint, Columba, bore
Glad tidings to Iona's shore,
No common light of nature blessed
The mountain region of the west,
A land where gentle manners ruled
O'er men in dauntless virtues schooled,
That raised, for centuries, a bar
Impervious to the tide of war;
Yet peaceful Arts did entrance gain
Where haughty Force had striven in vain;
And, 'mid the works of skilful hands,
By wanderers brought from foreign lands
And various climes, was not unknown
The clasp that fixed the Roman Gown;
The Fibula, whose shape, I ween,
Still in the Highland Broach is seen,
The silver Broach of
Worn at the breast of some grave Dame
On road or path, or at the door
Of fern-thatched Hut on heathy moor:
But delicate of yore its mould,
And the material finest gold;
As might beseem the fairest Fair,
Whether she graced a royal chair,
Or shed, within a vaulted Hall,
No fancied lustre on the wall
Where shields of mighty Heroes hung,
While Fingal heard what Ossian sung.
The heroic Age expired - it slept
Deep in its tomb:-- the bramble crept
O'er Fingal's hearth ; the grassy sod
Grew on the floors his Sons had trod :
Malvina! where art thou? Their state
The noblest-born must abdicate,
The fairest, while with fire and sword
Come Spoilers — horde impelling horde,
Must walk the sorrowing mountains, drest
By ruder hands in homelier vest.